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Germany’s Bavaria Faces Criticism for Its Plans to Introduce University Fees for Non-EU Students

The Bavarian State of Germany is planning to introduce tuition fees for non-European students, and unions defending students’ rights have objected to the decision profoundly.

Deutsches Studentenwerk (DSW), the association representing 54 student unions, has expressed its position against the introduction of tuition fees for international students from third countries, saying tuition fees are ‘poison for equal opportunities,’ SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

In its explanation regarding the objection, DSW points out that financing studies is one of the main challenges 325,000 international students in Germany face, and by introducing a new tuition fee, Germany not only can lose international students but also put at risk the country’s locational advantage which is the expulsion from tuition fees.

In fact, it is exactly this freedom from tuition fees that sets Germany apart from other education-providing countries and marks it as the most important non-English-speaking host country for foreign students, right behind the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

“Although they have to prove that they have sufficient funds to enrol in the amount of €10,300, the factual costs of studying abroad cause them major problems, especially the rental costs. With the bridging aid from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which was implemented by the student unions during the pandemic, a disproportionately high share of 30 per cent of the funds went to international students,” Matthias Anbuhl, DSW Secretary-General, explains.

Moreover, the association argues that the introduction of the new Bavarian Higher Education Innovation Act has proven to be unsuccessful, as Baden-Württemberg previously did so, and the decision caused the state a sharp decline in international students from non-EU countries.

On the other hand, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has decided against the introduction of such fees, also because of the enormous administrative effort.

According to data from the first education search platform, Erudera.com, the Bavarian state is home to 48,625 international students, making it the second most sought state in Germany, right behind North Rhine-Westphalia, which is the top federal state in Germany with the most international students (73,881).

Nonetheless, the total number of international students pursuing their academic careers in Germany is 416,437, with this number increasing by 38.1 per cent between 2014 and 2021.

The main countries of origin for international students in Germany are China with 40,122 students, followed by India (28,542), Syria (16,931), Austria (13,612), Russia (0,573), Iran (10,561), and Turkey (10,018).

Other countries of origin making up the remaining share of international students in Germany include Italy (8,576), Cameroon (7,970), Tunisia (6,729), Ukraine (6,572), and France (6,532).

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